Friday, October 13, 2017

Mosvick on the Law and Judicial Politics of Conscription in the Civil War

Nicholas M. Mosvick, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Mississippi, has posted Courtroom Wars: Pennsylvania Judges and Popular Constitutional Discourse in the Civil War North, which appears in the Faulkner Law Review 8 (2017): 269-348 (2017):
In November 1863, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued a temporary injunction in the case of Kneedler v. Lane by a vote of 3-2 which declared the Enrollment Act of 1863 or the Conscription Act unconstitutional. This article seeks to describe how, over the course of 1863, Pennsylvania judges confronted the constitutional arguments over the Conscription Act amidst a background of Judge Woodward's campaign for governor and the push by Democratic newspapers and party members to share constitutional critiques of the Conscription Act with the public. The article also accesses newly unearthed evidence in the form of briefs, interrogatories, and oral arguments before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in the case of Kneedler, showing the meticulous ways in which anti-administration lawyers crafted their arguments against the constitutionality of the Conscription Act. The robust debate that emerges from these cases and legal arguments reflects the constitutional discourse among Northern citizens, which reflects their trepidation over expanding federal power and changing notions of sovereignty.